Most people don’t understand grief at all even though everyone will experience grief after a service at a funeral home in Oakland, CA at some point. There are many myths surrounding loss and grieving that muddy the waters and, in many ways, make it difficult for people to deal with loss in a healthy way. They include:
- Staying Connected to the Deceased Makes You Crazy – How many movies have you seen where the widow is worried over and considered “crazy” for holding onto her dead husband’s shirts or talking to him at his gravesite? This couldn’t be further from the truth. Its healthy to continue your connection with the deceased. In fact, many cultures around the world have deep tradition in connecting with the deceased through rituals, songs, conversations, songs and keepsakes. The book Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief says, “remaining connected seemed to facilitate the bereaved’s ability to cope with loss and accompanying changes in their lives.”
- Remembering the Deceased Means Staying in the Past – Remembering a loved one doesn’t mean staying in the past, it can mean connecting to them in a new and meaningful way that changes as time goes on. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the only way to stay connected to the deceased is to remember past times. But your relationship with the deceased doesn’t have to stay the same. Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief states, “Instead [of a static relationship], they evolve and mature right along with us”. A healthy way of grieving a loss is to keep the deceased part of new experiences and new memories.
- A Death is a Loss – While people often refer to death as a “loss”, death doesn’t mean that someone is gone forever. Their memory, goodness, and even wisdom can live on through the people they met and loved in life. After all, how can you lose someone when you hold them dearly and deeply in their heart?
- You Need to Move on from the Loss – Oftentimes those in mourning feel a societal pressure to move on from the loss. However, there isn’t really a way to move on or detach from a loss. Grief doesn’t go away. Instead, it changes. In the early months you might grieve by sitting in the dark and crying, but as time goes on you might grieve by lighting a candle once a year. Also, there shouldn’t be any pressure to leave the deceased behind. The deceased can, and often should, always be a part of you and your life, even though that part may change with time.
- Grief Eventually Ends in Closure – This couldn’t be further from the truth. Grief is non-linear and generally has no end or “closure” when you can sign and move on completely. Grief can change over time, but it won’t ever completely go away. Eleanor Haley from What’s Your Grief says, “Grief isn’t something you go through, it’s something that becomes a part of you. It’s forever.”